Ritratto di signora in viaggio by Gottardo Pallastrelli Presented at JCU

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From left: student Lea Simonini, Prof. Federica Capoferri, author Gottardo Pallastrelli, Prof. Alessandra Grego

From left: student Lea Simonini, Prof. Federica Capoferri, author Gottardo Pallastrelli, Prof. Alessandra Grego

The Center for Continuing and Professional Education, in collaboration with the Departments of English Language and Literature and Modern Languages and Literature, hosted Gottardo Pallastrelli for a special lecture on Thursday, October 11. The lecture, which was held in Italian, was introduced by Professor Federica Capoferri and moderated by Professor Alessandra Grego. English Literature student Lea Simonini also participated in the discussion.

Pallastrelli is the author of the book Ritratto di Signora in Viaggio – Un’americana cosmopolita nel mondo di Henry James (“Portrait of a Traveling Lady – A cosmopolitan American in the world of Henry James”). It is the biography of American Caroline Fitzgerald, reconstructed after Pallastrelli found 19 letters that James and Fitzgerald exchanged. Thanks to these letters, it was possible to recreate the social and cultural context of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, adding to the book’s value.

Caroline Fitzgerald was a true cosmopolitan woman for the time, an explorer willing to experience every kind of adventure that continents such as Europe and Asia had to offer. Her meeting with Henry James would become the perfect complement to both of their lives. He saw in her the reflection of his books’ heroines, and, at the same time, found inspiration for his future novels. Thanks to him, Caroline recovered her passion for literature.

According to Pallastrelli, we will never know if it was actually James who was inspired by the woman, or if the heroines of the novels were a model for Caroline herself.  Nevertheless, what we can say for sure is that Caroline and James had a profound understanding of one another.

As noted by student Lea Simonini, James sees in Caroline the light that his heroines always seem to lose, overwhelmed by their mundane lives where there is no space for vitality and feelings. But Caroline is different, she is driven by a continuous search for life.